It’s better to receive than to give


‘Tis the season for giving. 

Let’s face it – there’s something very satisfying in being able to give to those who are less fortunate than us.  And it’s good to give to the underprivileged, the poor, the needy.  But do we ever see ourselves as the ones who are empty-handed, hungry, poor in spirit and in desperate need of rescuing?

The First Christmas is an uncomfortable contradiction to the subsequent themes of our modern Christmases.  The First Christmas was not about our ability to be givers, but our deep need to be receivers. 

Our ability to be benevolent givers has little to do with the ultimate gift from God to us.

“God wanted to do something for us so strange, so utterly beyond the bounds of human imagination, so foreign to human projection, that He had to resort to angels, pregnant virgins, and stars in the sky to get it done.  We didn’t think of it, understand it or approve it.  All we could do at Bethlehem was receive it.  A gift from a God that we hardly even knew.” (William Willimon)

What we couldn’t do for ourselves, God did through a baby.  A baby.  Not the sort of remedy I would have chosen to get humanity’s attention.  But then, He’s God and I’m not. 

Plus, it’s just plain bad manners to question the giver about their generous gift. 

Me:  What’s this?

Giver:  It’s my gift to you.

Me:  Why?  (I don’t even really know you.)

Giver:  Because I want you to have it.  And I love you.

Me:  (This is freaking me out now, because the love isn’t reciprocated)  Oh, ummm….thanks?

Giver:  You’re welcome.  I knew you needed it.

Me:  Well, no, I don’t need anything.  But thanks anyway.

Giver:  Hang on to it.  You don’t know you need it yet.  But you will.  And when you do, it’s there for you.  It never breaks, spoils, fades, or becomes outdated.

Me:  How does it work?

Giver:  You’ll find out when you open it. 

This free gift from God in the form of Jesus, the Rescuer.

“This is often the way God loves us: with gifts we thought we didn’t need, which transform us into people we didn’t think we wanted to be.”  (Willimon)

In the midst of our self-sufficient, take charge, independent, proud-hearted existence, we are completely  undone by this Gift. 

“This stranger comes to us, blesses us with a gift and calls us to see ourselves as we really are – empty-handed recipients of a gracious God who, rather than leave us to our own devices, gave us a baby.” (Willimon)

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”  (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Full hearts, empty hands, joyful Christmas.

10 thoughts on “It’s better to receive than to give

    1. Melanie A Crane

      Καλά Χριστούγεννα! Merry Christmas to you all. So many amazing memories of the holidays spent with you and Nick in Crete, especially around your table laden with Greek delicacies! Miss you more than you know, my dear friend.


  1. Mel, you’re truly a special gift to our earth. Thank you for such beautiful writings and insightful thoughts. We trust you’ll have a joy-filled Christmas and that 2021 brings our world greater peace. Expecting great things. With love, Cheryl



  2. Kathy Ziegenfus

    Dear Melanie,
    I always enjoy your blog postings even when the message is difficult. You are an inspirational writer and I always read teary-eyed or with a big smile on my face or both at the same time. I always take a moment to think of your parents and how proud they would be of you. I loved them so. Your latest post regarding our most special gift from God is touching and the photos of your creches are beautiful. Thank you so much for writing this beautiful piece. Love and Merry Christmas to you and Richard,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s